Forgotten series: The Jelly Bean Bandits – The Jelly Bean Bandits (1967)

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Sporting one of the most hilarious names imaginable, the Jelly Bean Bandits were (and in fact, still are, as they reunited several years ago) actually a lot cooler than their silly handle suggests.

Tight and attentive, yet raunchy enough to win the approval of “Pebbles” and “Nuggets” groupies, the New York band executes their material with just the right balance of pop instincts and garage punk gusto. Heeded by thudding drums, stomping rhythms and a tubby hook, “Country Woman” crunches with power, while “Generation” starts off by announcing, “Look to the skies! The flying saucers will always be there!,” before wrapping itself in a blazing fireball of rattling riffs and stuttering breaks.

A harsh acid rock edge envelopes “Neon River” and the aptly titled “Goodtime Feeling” frolics about to a smiling Lovin’ Spoonful styled jugband beat. Narrated in a quasi-spoken word format, “Plastic Soldiers” contains nonsensical lyrics of a psychedelic nature, where “Another August Revisited” is a heartstopping ballad.

Devised of spiffy guitar work, clattering keyboards and concise arrangements, numbers such as “Going Nowhere,” “Poor Precious Dreams” and “Happiness Girl” are so infectious and memorable that it’s surprising they didn’t storm the airwaves. Melodic vocals, resting somewhere between vanilla soul and the surly sneer of the Blues Magoos, supported by smooth running harmonies cackling with excitement, further define the sound of the band.

Creative songwriting, synchronized with the band’s ability to know what to do with the tunes, not to mention an energy level registering on high, makes The Jelly Bean Bandits (Mainstream Records) the classic album that it is.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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